Paid Game Reviews, They Happen

I’m a big fan of conspiracies, so I believe everything that guy said.

Also, in case anyone wants me to do paid game reviews, I will do this thing. I will also gladly plaster your ads all over the place. This way I would get paid twice. I would also get to play the game early and for free, technically getting paid a third time. If you want to pay me a fourth time, I can also contribute amazing blurbs you can put on the back of the game to sell more copies.

A true masterpiece.

10 out of 10!

Stunning

I like David Jaffe now.

Yeah, Simcity 5 is Real

As the world predicted. Kind of excited about the idea of multiplayer, I could see that working pretty well.

I don’t understand what tilt-shift means. I figured it out. I really like the idea of ruining some smug super genius city planners perfectly designed utopia filled with highly educated physicists just because he happens to be adjacent to my crime-filled wreck. I like to imagine my chief exports will be meth and prostitutes. Sim physicists a) have a lot of money and b) like to party.

Continue reading Yeah, Simcity 5 is Real

Reason 96 Why Final Fantasy 6 is the Most Awesome: Kefka’s Tower

Kefka’s Tower is easily the best end area in any Final Fantasy and quite possibly the best end stage I’ve played in any RPG, for a couple of reason:

  • Multiple parties – Up until this point, the game has required the player to create and switch between at most two different parties to work through the puzzles of certain dungeons. In Kefka’s Tower they kick it up a notch and require you to form three different parties to ascend the tower. I think one of the greatest strengths of Final Fantasy 6 is that they keep things fresh by introducing new twists and this is just one example of that. They also did a very nice job of designing the tower to accommodate this new setup, all three parties are required to solve the various puzzles and proceed to the end.
  • Multiple parties part 2 – The three party requirement is even more interesting because Final Fantasy 6 has exactly twelve regular characters (and two hidden ones), so they’re essentially forcing you to use every single regular character available to you. I’ve always found this to be a little more realistic, the fate of the world is hanging in the balance, why wouldn’t ever one come? What prior obligation could be more important? And it makes Kefka seem that much more badass, because you really need to bring everyone to take him down.
  • Bosses – This end area has to have the most bosses of any RPG I’ve played: Atma, Gold Drgn, Inferno, Skull Drgn, Guardian, Poltrgeist, Doom, Goddess and Kefka himself. The last half of the tower is basically just a series of bosses.
  • It’s hard – For a couple of reasons. First, since you have to use so many characters, many of whom you may not have leveled up that much throughout the game, even relatively simple random battles can turn bad quickly as the sub-par characters aren’t pulling their own weight. Two, trying to equip twelve characters with quality items just isn’t going to happen, there’s just not enough good items to go around, someone’s going to get the short end of the stick. Three, some of the bosses have charge up or near death attacks that can wipe your party if your not fast enough and don’t have the proper spells to counter them (Atma casting Ultima, Guardian if he’s not killed fast). Finally, some of the randomly encountered monsters (Doom Drgn, Sky Base) are extremely difficult to manage, even with the best of parties. But I’d rather it be hard and feel a sense of accomplishment then it be too easy.

All these factors combine to make Kefka’s Tower really feel epic, to me. And that’s not even including the final battle, which will be it’s own item, but could be included here.

I’ve been replaying Final Fantasy III (VI) on the SNES and have decided to document 100 different ways how VI is better than any of the Final Fantasys released in recent years. I think I can come up with 100. If not, I’ll just unceremoniously end this segment.

Mass Effect 3 User Reviews, So Great

I love reading user reviews on Metacritic when a new game comes out. While I haven’t yet purchased the latest entry in the Mass Effect series and even though the reviews will most likely not sway me from getting the game (mostly because nothing new has come out recently that I’m interested in), I still enjoy reading what others have to say.

Now, not that I doubt for a second that the sequel is dumbed down and devoid of as many RPG elements as humanly possible to appeal to a broader audience; not that I don’t believe that the critic’s reviews are probably a little (or a lot) more positive than they should be (for me, Dragon Age 2 is a great example of the rift that exists between review scores and reality)…

…But really, can Mass Effect 3 be that bad? Supposing it is, is venting on Metacritic going to do anything? I’d be willing to bet that this game makes the most money out of the bunch, so EA certainly isn’t going to give a shit about a bunch of people whining that the heart and soul of one of the greatest original series created this generation has been ripped to shreds.

Whatever, the user reviews are funny. I like not being able to tell if this is the typical over exaggerated hate bestowed on the latest big release or it really is a disappointment.

“Seriously, were biowear even trying this time? The game in no way resembles the first 2 Mass Effect games and I am very disappointed and have buyers remorse.”

– MoeLester

“I just finished the game and there are no straight heterosexual routes. Every female in the game is a tranny. I don’t want to be gay, and yet the fine writers of bioware, specifically that fat lard “hamburger helper” keep trying to force their yaoi fangirlism on me. I JUST WANT STRAIGHT HETEROSEXUAL SEX IN THE MISSIONARY POSITION WHILE HOLDING HANDS. Is that really so much to ask?”

– truegamrgrl041

“-bluebad -redgood -greenbad This “game” is not made for gamers by any means. It is made for drooling trash with no standards, and bioware confirmed them as their target audience. If you are supporting this game, you are supporting the cancer that’s slowly degenerates and kills the industry.”

– shadycharacter

So, again I haven’t played it yet, but I really do hope previous choices make a serious impact on the game’s story line and play or I’m going to be disappointed. The series has been all about giving the player different, major, tough choices they have to make. Mass Effect 3 should be a culmination of all of those choices. If the finale ends up being largely the same no matter what decisions I made then…what was the point?

Up to this point (Mass Effect 2), I really think Bioware has done a great job of throwing interesting choices at the player; Choose Your Own Adventure, in video game form. Take saving or killing the Rachni queen, effectively choosing to save or destroy the Rachni species (also, this plot and choice seem to directly rip off the end of Ender’s Game, specifically the ending). I appreciate that they give the player such a heavy choice to make, it really gives one a sense of scope the Mass Effect series is going for.

If Mass Effect 3 comes along and that choice doesn’t have an equally epic consequence on the story line, I feel like it’s all for naught. I feel like I was committing to a serious choice, I don’t want to just see the Rachni helping me a little bit in one scene. I want to know that my choices matter. I also, personally, think it would be interesting if saving the Rachni (the “nice” thing to do) results in a bad thing happening (they really are an inherently evil race, for instance). And I mean like majorly bad (or good, I guess) things happening, I want to lose a party member for a bad choice I made, I want them to throw an nearly impossible situation at me, I want to really regret a bad choice. Of course they’d never do that because that would piss people off or be too hard or limit the audience or some such.

It’s like finding a bomb-able wall in a Zelda game and seeing a chest inside. Great! Then you open the chest and get one rupee. Being able to do something (break open a wall, save a whole race) is only half of what makes the experience great. The other half is the reward bestowed on the player, be it by going through a different story arc or giving the player a useful item or, the greatest gift of all, making new and different content available to the player.

Fez, The Rotating Camera Game

I like Fez, I’m excited to play Fez, I wish Fez was out already. What I don’t like, though, is that Fez trailers seem to consist of as little game play as possible, with added rotating camera. Just in case you’re not sure, at this point, that you’re going to need to rotate the camera to navigate the seemingly 2D puzzles.

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Simcity’s Soundtracks Are Great

The recently leaked Simcity 5 trailer (that’s been taken down, I just linked to it so you know that I know there was a video at one point) and stills (above, not taken down, yet) have pretty heavily hinted at a forthcoming (maybe GDC) announcement and a 2013 release date (good for me, plenty of time to get a not so horrible computer).

I’d say I’m approaching the idea of a new Simcity with restrained enthusiasm. On one hand, it’s Simcity, what could possibly go wrong? On the other hand, more recent Maxis releases such as Spore just didn’t do it for me. On one hand, Maxis is developing it. On the other, Maxis belongs to EA and I don’t necessarily trust them to handle the series with the proper respect it deserves. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how it looks once more information is available.

A new Simcity aside, I’d like to sidetrack this whole discuss for a few paragraphs and ask you, Maxis (I’m sure your whole company is a regular reader), about Simant 2. Not that I’m not thrilled there’s a new Simcity game coming out, but Simant is, or should be, a classic in it’s own right. It’s certainly worthy of having it’s own sequels and you could be teaching the younger generation about the joy and excitement of the ant world! I’m really only half joking, too, as I have a fascination with ants sparked largely or wholly by playing Simant when I was younger.

While easily the greatest ant simulator ever created, Simant was amazingly fun to play. I loved conquering the yard, square by square, taking part in one section of this gigantic, largely hidden (you could only be in one square at a time) ant war that was raging in some guys lawn. I loved sending winged queens into adjacent squares to establish colonies, slowly beating down the occupying, filthy red ants and stealing their precious red ant larva for food. I loved navigating the other myriad dangers of the ant world: spiders, lawnmowers, the human foot and rain flooding the colony. I loved taking over the entire house in the final stages of conquest, forcing the unlucky inhabitants out and obliterating the red ant threat once and for all.

I mean, you could regurgitate food into other ant’s mouths! AND you could see the speech bubbles over the ants/spiders heads if you turned on a certain setting and the queen would bitch about how boring it was to sit around and lay eggs all day and the spider would talk about how delicious ants are to eat. Finally, the manual, which I still own despite no longer owning the game itself, does not just contain instructions for the game but is packed with real world ant facts and data, it’s huge and great and goes the extra mile when it really doesn’t need to.

There truly is no greater feeling of accomplishment then finishing the game, looking back and knowing that you alone helped the black ants establish the largest unified empire known to ant-kind. You conquer all of the known ant world, you are ant Genghis Khan.

I know it will never happen, but I think there’s a market for the other Sim titles. Simtower is just another example. The idea of the two day work week, one day weekend used in the game always intrigued my younger self, just imaging how awesome it would be to live in this sweet tower where I would simply go to school for two days then have a weekend! I felt like this setup would be so much more manageable then the five day week. Anyway, regardless, you let that concept sit around and then Tiny Tower comes along and makes a bazillion dollars (roughly), but it could have been you, Maxis, and it would have been better.

Simcopter, also, while apparently a huge commercial bomb, was cool cause you could enter the cheat code “superpowermultiply” and turn into a dog and run around really fast and people talked funny! Actually, thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure the game itself wasn’t that fun, we’d just run around in dog form a lot. Whatever, bring that series back, too.

OK, done with all that. My original plan was to note how amazing Simcity soundtracks are. Simcity 3 and it’s jazzy soundtrack, in particular, is great. Some nice person somewhere for some reason put a bunch of them on Youtube, and I’m embedding them below.

Continue reading Simcity’s Soundtracks Are Great

Reason 97 Why Final Fantasy 6 is the Most Awesome: It Still Looks Good

The 2D artwork in Final Fantasy 6 is amazing and still looks great, to this today. The character designs, the background art, the enemy and boss designs all look spectacular. I think, compared to 3D, 2D games just age much better.

I also believe the artwork is one of the main reasons why I can still go back and replay the game. Take Final Fantasy 7. While a truly great game it looks like crap now.

Continue reading Reason 97 Why Final Fantasy 6 is the Most Awesome: It Still Looks Good

Reason 98 Why Final Fantasy 6 is the Most Awesome: The Dream Stooges

I’m not really sure why Mr. Woolsey thought naming these three guys after the Three Stooges was a good idea, but it is. It’s important to note that this is all happening within Cyan’s dreaming mind and that in Japanese their names have nothing to do with the Three Stooges, they’re just the word for “dream” in other languages. Maybe not as cool as Chrono Trigger’s Ozzie, Flea and Slash, but, still, pretty cool.

Also realizing that, while I appreciate that the GBA remake brings the game to a new generation of people, the sanitized translations are not nearly as interesting.

Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer on Double Fine Adventure

I really enjoyed this interview. Backwards puzzles are something I’ve never really thought about before, from a design perspective. And the idea that being stuck is a good thing, sometimes. Adventure games aren’t about going on adventures. The internet killed adventure games.

I can’t believe (but am very happy that) Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders is actually the name of a real game.